Planet Hulk review

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Forgive my recent absence; I’ve been going through a bit of a busy streak. However, last night I decided to unwind by renting a couple movies, and on an impulse, I chose to try the latest film from Marvel Animated Features: Planet Hulk, which I will review for you now.

The movie is based on a Greg Pak story from a couple years ago. I haven’t read Pak’s story, so if you’re wondering how the film compares and how it deviates, etc., I can’t help you. But I can say that I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed the movie. I came in with fairly low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised in every way.

Read on for more.

The jist of the story is that Earth’s heroes grow so tired of Hulk’s rampages that they send him to another planet. What Hulk did to finally reach that breaking point is never explained, nor is the absence of Bruce Banner (who never appears); the film isn’t concerned with the backstory — it just tries to get straight to the smashing. And that decision worked, at least for me. I found myself interested enough in the story and action that I didn’t really care about the context.

Also, if you’re looking for a really original plot, Planet Hulk isn’t it. Much of the story is a comics rip-off of the movie Gladiator, but as with the lack of backstory, I found that I didn’t mind. The movie makes a sincere effort to develop a surprisingly strong supporting cast. With several fleshed-out, three-dimensional secondary characters, the story is able to pack quite the emotional punch at several key moments.

(A sidenote: one of those secondary characters is Korg, whose inclusion is likely to confuse some viewers because he looks almost identical to the Thing — orange rock hide, super strength, with the only difference being Korg has a a slight conehead. But that’s not really the filmmakers’ fault. Assuming he was also in Pak’s version, I imagine he was used because he has a long comics’ history himself, featured in the first appearance of Thor. So blame Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby, for creating a villain who looked so nearly identical to Thing, who had been created just a year earlier.)

But as you might expect, the strength of the film is the action sequences. Give a lot of credit to Marvel for not pulling its punches — the violence actually gets fairly graphic at times. I would have expected Marvel to tone it down for kids, but they don’t shy away from some fairly intense sequences. A few other superheroes, such as Iron Man and Thor, have cameos, and Beta Ray Bill, of all heroes, plays an improtant and awesome role.

The animation itself is very good. I’m by no means an animation connoisseur, but I know what looks good, and Planet Hulk was visually pleasing, doing a nice job of handling the many fight scenes. The movie has no big names doing voices, but the voice acting is well done. Rick D. Wasserman voices Hulk impressively, giving power to the character, but managing to do the near-impossible by not overdoing it. Another surprise in the film is its very strong soundtrack; the score was fairly outstanding, which I wasn’t expecting in a straight-to-dvd comic book cartoon.

I haven’t seen any of Marvel’s other recent animated movies, but now I’m much more intrigued by the concept. I’ve also heard the cartoon series Wolverine and the X-Men is very good, and I would concur based on the three or four episodes I’ve seen (I wish it were on a more major network, though). There’s also a Hulk Vs. movie, which includes battles with Wolverine and Thor, that I’m now interested in.

In short, I think Marvel could really capitalize on the animated market, which appears to be its goal. The company has a lot of great stories to tell outside the comic book medium, and they can’t all be done in live-action epics. But if Marvel is willing to make relatively mature cartoons, as well done as this one, then I could actually get pretty excited about Marvel Animated Features. That studio bears watching, as it might end up being a great medium for re-telling some of the company’s classic stories.

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6 Responses to “Planet Hulk review”

  1. Gokitalo Says:

    Nice. You and Spiff always surprise me with these!

    Apologies in general to our readers for not updating much this week. Like El David, we’ve been preoccupied. But hey, here we are!

    Anyhow, very solid review, Dave. I saw some trailers for this and it didn’t look too shabby. When the comic version of “Planet Hulk” came out, I remember people saying they liked it, but it started to drag on near the end. But I have a feeling they won’t be saying that about the movie version!

    What Hulk did to finally reach that breaking point is never explained, nor is the absence of Bruce Banner (who never appears);

    Yeah. I looked it up and apparently it had something to do with Hulk rampaging through Las Vegas after being exposed to another gamma bomb explosion during JMS’ run on FF.

    I wasn’t planning on picking this up, but this review’s making me start to reconsider. Hulk vs. Wolverine could be good, albeit a bit familiar. Now Hulk vs. Thor sounds intriguing, especially since Asgard hasn’t appeared too many times in animated form.

    I’ve watched some Wolverine and the X-Men and… well… it’s not bad, but I get a “been there, done that” feeling when I watch it. Maybe it’s because this is the third X-Men cartoon of my generation, but it’s like they tossed a bunch of characters and famous storylines in a blender.

  2. spiffyithaca Says:

    While I question your choice of “Planet Hulk” over any other movie in your average Blockbuster, this was a great and interesting review, and very unexpected, and actually a good thing to tackle for the blog. The potential for the Animated Marvel Studios sounds great judging on your review for Planet Hulk. You certainly colored me intrigued (with a lime green crayon).

    My friend owns the Dr. Strange one, which I may have to borrow for a viewing.

    I like your point that a lot of famous storylines just wouldn’t work well on screen, and that’s where the cartoon division comes in. I like it. If they could add all-star talent on vocals, that’d be great too, but sometimes, no-names are better anyways.

    Also, I think I lie inbetween Goki and AA’s friends in regards to Wolverine and the X-Men. I watched the first batch of episodes, but eventually lost track of it. I liked that it had Emma Frost involved, and it had some new twists from the other X-Men cartoons (the X-Men are disbanded with Wolverine trying to pick up the pieces), but obviously, it didn’t captivate me too much, since I stopped watching it (because I do have the channel, even though I forget what it airs on). I think Goki has a few Wolverine and X-Men reviews on this here blog, actually (same with Brave and the Bold).

  3. Gokitalo Says:

    That actually might’ve been Rob! Wherever he went…

  4. spiffyithaca Says:

    Oh….RIGHT! Good call.

  5. davidry214 Says:

    I was at Hastings, not Blockbuster, and it wasn’t the only movie I rented (just the only comics-related one). But while Planet Hulk certainly isn’t a “must see,” it’s a good watch. It’s an enjoyable, well-made attempt at telling serious stories in cartoon format.

    Hulk vs. Wolverine actually looked pretty good; from the trailer, it looks like it brings in all of the Weapon X program. I saw Deadpool an Sabertooth at least. I think no-name voice talents might be better actually, and I’m already thinking of some of the classics I’d like to see through Marvel Animated Studios (Secret Wars or even Civil War would be a cool way to get more characters in there, though there’s a video game, Marvel Alliance 2, that seems to be based on the latter).

    I would like to see more of Wolverine and the X-Men before judging for sure, but it seemed like a fun show to me. It’s not the old X-Men cartoon, but it looked like an improvement over X-Men Evolution, which made very little attempt at telling classic stories outside of Magneto. And as Spiffy mentioned, it appears to have some new twists and chances to see characters who haven’t gotten as much screen time.

  6. Animated movie reviews « Eat More Comics Says:

    […] and there’s certainly been a recent trend to make edgier animated comic movies. As I said when I reviewed Planet Hulk a while back, I think that trend could be a great thing for fans who want to see some of […]

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